Dal Khalsa veteran and staunch proponent of Sikh sovereignty Manmohan Singh Khalsa passes away in the wee hours of the morning in London with his team and supporters vouching to continue the unfinished task of regaining Sikh self-rule.
Never say die and never be afraid of anyone were the watchwords of this burly Sikh activist who fearing torture and death made United Kingdom his home and continued his struggle for Sikh sovereignty without let up and fear till he passed away in the early hours of today after a prolonged illness.
Since the formation of Dal Khalsa in 1978, Manmohan Singh Khalsa unflinchingly continued as a determined and devoted leader of the organisation. Not only the government of UK, but well-researched documents were regularly submitted by him and his associates at the United Nations in Geneva.
Neither the Indian High Commission, who considered him a thorn in their flesh, nor the Sikh stalwarts who denounced him could dissuade him to give up war-cry for justice for the Sikhs. Many were waylaid and many quietly disappeared from the scene but Manmohan Singh Khalsa was steadfast and forthright and remained so till the last. Even deteriorating health and warnings from doctors did not deter him. It really did not matter to him whether he was popular amongst the Sikhs or not, he stayed focused all his life to the cause for which he had left his home, hearth and homeland.
Nothing deterred him from making the first call for Sikh sovereignty at every available opportunity, invariably at great personal risk. Recently when his name was taken off the so-called Black list -a list of Sikhs not allowed to visit India, he said, “I would prefer to die on a foreign soil in the UK which has enabled me to continue my struggle for Sikh freedom rather than die in India as a defeated person for there was still a long way to go till Sikhs they achieve their goal of freedom.”
Revolutionary poet Gajinder Singh praying for his speedy recovery had said last week that “It will be very hard for the Sikh community to find another staunch proponent of Sikh sovereignty as Manmohan Singh Khalsa.”
Manmohan Singh Khalsa was also the chief architect of Sikh-Muslim relations. He enabled Sikh pilgrims from all across the world, especially from the UK to visit Sikh religious shrines in Pakistan. He forged friendship and bonding with the political leadership and bureaucracy of Pakistan under his International Sikh-Muslim Friendship Forum. Inter-faith dialogue to find out commonality between the two faiths was always on his agenda.
It will be very hard for the Sikh community to find another staunch proponent of Sikh sovereignty as Manmohan Singh Khalsa .”
In a press release the Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh has pointed out that, “Dal Khalsa is proud of his achievements. He was among handful of Sikh personalities in whose presence the President of Pakistan declared the formation of the PSGPC at Gurdwara Dera Sahib Lahore on April 11, 1999.”
He further said, “His nationalistic fervor went beyond the Sikhs. His association with Kashmiri Diaspora was well known. One could see him joining them in their public rallies with more zeal and commitment than Kashmiri activists.”
Adding a personal touch, Kanwarpal Singh said, “I have lost a friend, guide and staunch supporter. My members and I salute his commitment.”
Admiring his grit and determination from very close quarters during the brief meetings that this writer has had with him years ago, I recall the first stanza of John Donne’s sonnet “Death be not proud.”
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
The Soorma -the brave warrior lives on.